Canine Vitamin Supplements for Puppies and/or Adult Dogs
This is probably the most common question I hear in relation to supplements for dogs. Puppy owners and owners of senior pets often ask if they should be given a vitamin and mineral supplement to their pet.
In most cases, I do not recommend vitamin and mineral supplements for puppies or for adult dogs. If the diet is high quality and well-balanced, supplemental vitamins and minerals should not be necessary. If the diet does not provide for the dog’s nutritional needs, it makes more sense to change the diet to a balanced diet.
Adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to an already balanced diet can actually throw off the balance of the diet. In particular, the calcium and phosphorus ratio can be changed, which can lead to serious malnutrition and growth abnormalities, especially with large breed puppies.
That being said, there is at least one exception to this rule. If feeding a home-cooked diet instead of a commercially available diet that is already balanced, a vitamin and mineral supplement may be necessary. However, unless you have a great deal of experience in canine nutrition, I would not recommend trying to create a home-cooked diet for your dog (and particularly not for your young puppy) without the aid of a qualified and knowledgeable canine nutrition expert. If needed, your veterinarian should be able to provide you with a referral to such a person, assuming your veterinarian does not feel competent to help you balance the diet herself.
Neutraceutical Dietary Supplements for Dogs (Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Etc)
Neutraceutical food supplements are dietary supplements which have a positive impact on canine health. Commonly used neutraceuticals include those used for joint health, such as glucosamine, chondroitin and many others. There are neutraceutical supplements that are offered as potential treatments for other illnesses as well.
Many of these neutraceutical supplements are beneficial for the individual dog but whether or not they should be used depends on the individual patient. Many veterinarians and pet owners believe that neutraceutical supplements containing glucosamine can have beneficial effects for dogs at risk of joint disease when given before symptoms become evident. Certainly, they can be beneficial for many dogs that are symptomatic.
Use caution when choosing a neutraceutical product though. Remember that neutraceuticals are not licensed and monitored in the same way as pharmaceuticals (antibiotics and other medicinal drugs). When searching for a nutraceutical supplement for your dog, choose a reputable company that has studies available to back up the efficacy and safety of their product.
Prebiotic and Probiotic Canine Food Supplements
Prebiotic and probiotic food supplements can be beneficial for many dogs. These types of supplements are quite useful in promoting gastrointestinal health. There is evidence that they may help to promote a healthy immune system as well.
Prebiotics and probiotics are particularly useful in the following situations:
- if your dog has been on an antibiotic
- if your dog has had or will have a change in diet
- if your dog will be undergoing a stressful period, such as being in a boarding facility